Camp Collaboration: Investigating South Africa’s Secret Sites

This could have been entitled ‘Max and Murray’s Big Adventure Involving Data Dragons’ … except that this particular adventure included many more people than just Max and Murray.

Extracts taken from the School of Data blog describes what a School of Data expedition is and who the camps’ data dragon was!


What is a data expedition?

“Much like mountaineering, data investigations are better done as teams, you’ll need a mix of skills from engineer to storytellers, including designers, scouts and analysts in your mix – you may need a sherpa to negotiate the tricky bits and keep pushing you when the chocolate runs out. Much like mountaineering, in a data investigation, you can often see the peak, you know where you want to get to (or which dragons you want to slay), but the route there is not always obvious, some paths will be blocked and you will have to find another way to the top. Data expeditions are sherpa-ed shared-brain problem-solving exercises – where a team assembles to tackle a real-life problem through using data…”


What was the data behind the dragon? 

“We took on an issue put on the table by the Right2Know campaign, an access-to-information group in South Africa. Using a 30-year-old national security law, the government of South Africa has designated a large number sites around the country (400+) as National Key Points where protests or public gatherings are not allowed. Not only are these locations unknown, but so are their criteria for designation and none of this information can be acquired by a freedom of information request. In short, the government will not provide a comprehensive list of these locations (where they are) and explanation for how they are determined (what they are).”

Murray, from the Right2Know campaign, on the outcomes of the expedition:

“My campaign has been working on the National Key Points Act for over a year, and some of the people in my team have been working on it for more than a decade. In this session, people who’d never even heard of the National Key Points broke new ground within 20 minutes. More brains = more solutions.”

School of Data Expedition to investigate South Africa’s ‘National Key Points’ started off as an idea from the Investigation Track at the Camp and we’re eagerly looking forward to seeing if this goes any further.

*Originally posted on the School of Data blog here